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Majority Rule

November 14, 1996
The incredibly low voter turnout on Nov. 5 only confirmed what many of us already know: Most Californians don't value democracy all that much. What is even more tragic, however, is that even among those who vote, most fail to appreciate the very bedrock principle of democracy: majority rule. Passage of Prop. 218, which requires a two-thirds "majority" before certain local tax initiatives can be enacted, effectively gives some voters an automatic second vote for each one they cast. Put another way, on many vitally important local issues, a minority of one-third of the electorate (plus one vote)
May 27, 1985 | Associated Press
South African President Pieter W. Botha said Sunday that his country's black majority must be given a say "at the highest level possible" but that the white minority will never accept black rule. "I rule out a unitary state. White South Africans and many other minority groups will never accept a unitary state in which they will be dominated by majority rule," Botha said in an interview on British television.
July 18, 2007
Re "Iraq insurgency said to include many Saudis," July 15 The Times' piece is glaring proof that the Saudi ruling princes and their ostensible enemy, Osama bin Laden, have identical objectives in Iraq: no democracy, no majority rule, no women's or minority rights and, above all, very limited oil production, which could bring prices down and undermine the Saudi monopoly.
November 1, 1990
The sleeper on the California ballot this year is Proposition 136, an insidious initiative that takes aim at some of the basic assumptions of modern democratic government. Although The Times already has opposed Proposition 136, this cynical measure merits a second warning. If one were to draft legislation designed to subvert majority rule while rendering representative government ineffective, it would be difficult to improve on Proposition 136 as the vehicle.
October 20, 2006
Re "Our broken Constitution," Opinion, Oct. 16 Sanford Levinson blames many of America's problems on our "extraordinarily undemocratic" Constitution and asserts that more democracy is the solution. He has it backward. America's Constitution is a far cry from endorsing majority rule. Our founders focused first on what powers to delegate to the federal government. That is why the principle of delegated powers and the Bill of Rights primarily concern what the federal government is not allowed to do, reinforced by such "undemocratic" ideas as the separation of powers -- to protect Americans against majorities using government to abuse rights.
June 21, 1991
What a wonderful thing to see democracy in action. The meeting on the cul-de-sac situation gave a loud and clear signal that, in Burbank, all men are not created equal. A month ago, a written poll showed a majority of residents wanted the cul-de-sacs to become permanent. But that wasn't the response the gentlemen of the council wanted (the developers would be displeased), so they caused to be written a negative staff report which bandied about any number of half-baked reasons as to why the barricades were a bad idea.
January 2, 2013 | By Joyce Appleby
On Jan. 3, there's a chance that the U.S. Senate will return to some semblance of a functioning legislative body. That day a majority of senators could vote to eliminate Rule XXII, which authorizes the notorious filibuster. Article 1, Section 6 of the Constitution, which gives to both houses of Congress the determination of "the rules of its proceedings," offers that opportunity on the first day of each new Congress. The filibuster, which requires a supermajority to cut off debate, entered the Senate's rules in 1807 as a courtesy to speakers.
March 3, 1991
Developers and supporters of the Orange County toll roads breathed a sigh of relief when a Times poll Feb. 24 showed that 58% of Orange County residents support the proposed toll roads. "Thank goodness," government officials must have thought, "I'll be able to rely on this poll to justify my support for these projects." Of course, had the poll shown a majority in opposition to the polls, officials would have immediately discounted the results. Let's assume that this poll accurately captures support for the toll roads.
December 3, 2013
Re "Minority rule in the Senate," Opinion, Dec. 1 Joyce Appleby would eliminate the filibuster, arguing that the Founding Fathers, having entrenched an inequality of representation in the Senate, certainly did not want to deviate further from majority rule. She refers to James Madison's opinion that requiring a supermajority would reverse the fundamental principle of free government. During the debates over the Constitution and the question of a Bill of Rights, however, Madison argued differently.
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